Updates, Beautiful Updates
2008 is off to a fine start for the world of Linux sound and music software, so this week's story is straight reporting from Studio Dave, with breaking news from various points on the Linux audio compass.
In June 2007 I wrote a brief profile of TAPESTREA, the "Techniques And Paradigms for Expressive Synthesis, Transformation, and Rendering of Environmental Audio" developed by Ge Wang and his crew at the computer science department at Princeton University.
At that time my attempts to compile it for a 64-bit platform resulted in a mixed outcome. I could start the program, but none of its controls were unresponsive to the mouse. Some keyboard controls functioned, but the interface needs the mouse for optimal use. I asked about a possible fix, but nothing came forth.
On January 8 of this new year Daniel Schmitt mentioned the following item regarding TAPESTREA on the Linux Audio Users mail list :
"Incidentally, if you are running this on a 64-bit platform, you should also replace the memcpy() call in the same file [audicle_gfx.cpp ], line 744, with something like "for (int i = 0; i < m_pick_size; ++i) temp_stack[i] = m_pick_top[i];", because otherwise clicking on things won't do anything. I'll send a patch to their mailing list."
Although that single line fixed the reponse problem, Daniel advised that it's only a stop-gap solution and that other 64-bit problems were likely to occur. I haven't encountered any so far, but I've had little time to delve deeply into the program. Nevertheless, I'm pleased to have a working version of TAPESTREA on my 64-bit system.
I wrote a woefully brief introduction to Freecycle and its capabilities in Loop-based Music Composition With Linux, Part 1. That article dates from September 2007, and at that point I was unable to compile the program for 64-bit iron.
On December 10 2007 LAU list members read Predrag Viceic's announcement that Freecycle 0.6.1.1alpha had been released. Predrag referred to this version as a maintenance release, but it signified more than mere maintenance for me. This line in the development Changelog made my day :
* Solved the bugs on 64bit platforms (thanks to Jonathan Stowe)
Indeed they did! Freecycle is the beat-slicer extraordinaire for Linux, and at last I have it running in 64Studio, thanks to Predrag and Jonathan.
Open Music 5.2.1
I last wrote about IRCAM's Open Music for Linux in March 2004. At that time I tested version 4.7.1, and I'm happy to report that the project has moved forward to version 5.2.1.
Significant work has gone into getting the program this far, but the user should expect to do some significant work himself. Open Music's dependencies are non-trivial, nor are most of them included in any mainstream distribution's software repository. For example, MidiShare and LibAudioStream are required libraries, but you'll need to retrieve the sources from SourceForge, find the proper patches for MidiShare, fix some makefiles in LibAudioStream, and quite possibly correct a few source files before you can successfully build them. Versions of SBCL (one of the major Lisps) and CLG (Lisp bindings to GTK graphics functions) are critical, and the most recent releases may not be the best choices. An OSC library must be compiled specifically for Open Music, but there is no documentation on where to find it or how to build it. In fact, it's very simple to compile, but until I contacted the maintainer I was at a standstill. So far, of all Open Music's requirements only the SDIF library compiled and installed cleanly.
Despite these difficulties I've persevered to the point of some limited success. I've been able to invoke Open Music 5.2.1 and open a few patches on my 32-bit OpenSUSE 10.2 system (JAD distro). Unfortunately things are too unstable to recommend OM as usable. I think I'm getting closer to stability, but it's a complicated process involving problems with & among Open Music's dependencies and its own codebase.
Although I've successfully evaluated a patch or two I've yet to get any sound from the system. I have the requisite components (fluidsynth compiled with MidiShare support), and MidiShare is working well with JAD now, but my connections just aren't right somewhere. There have been great improvements to the graphics components and overall usability design (e.g. the notation boxes are now expandable for easier reading and editing), but alas, problems still plague resizing and redraws.
Unfortunately, there are other problems: At startup, the program crashes if I select anything other than the previous workspace. Font sizes are sometimes too large and render their messages unreadable. Some patches crash the program immediately. I'm still chasing down a few undefined alien functions that may be causing some crashes, but I have no Lisp debugging skills beyond generating backtraces. Nevertheless, I remain enthusiastic about Open Music for Linux. Its design is truly unique, it's an honest-to-goodness music composition program, and it ought to run on Linux. As long as I can get help from Karim and other developers I'll keep working on it.
Just as I was finishing this article Paul Davis announced the availability of Ardour 2.2. As many of you know, I've been using the Ardour 2.0-ongoing branch of the project, and I've been very pleased with the new features and fixes. You can check out the goods yourself by downloading the new release from the Ardour Web site, or you can just peruse this list of the most recent changes. Figure 4 illustrates a bit of the new look, but you'll really want to see it on your own screen. Personally, I think this is another excellent release, and I encourage all serious Ardouristas to upgrade, take advantage of the improvements, and let the developers know how you appreciate their labors (e.g. Subscribe!).
One thing more: Upgraders from Ardour 2.1 or earlier, take note that certain configuration files must be removed or updated. Be sure to read the details on the Release Features page, they are important.
The next Linux Audio Conference will be held from February 28th to March 2nd 2008 at the Academy of Media Arts (KHM) in Cologne, Germany. As always, this event promises to be the major meeting of the finest minds in the Linux audio world. Alas, I can't make it again (funding is hard to come by for independent fellows like me), but I hope some of my readers can get there. This conference has always resulted in greater inspiration and achievement, so drop in if you can and pick up on some of the directions that Linux music and sound software will be taking in the coming year(s).
There's a lot of news coming out of the Linux audio world these days, so my next article will continue this straight report. I've got the low-down on recent developments on the Linux music notation software front, an update on the latest JACK, some interesting news about the LinuxSampler project, and much more. I'll be back in about two weeks, so keep swingin' and I'll catch you then.
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